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Armor and Blood: The Battle of Kursk: The Turning Point of World War II Hardcover – August 27, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* The German defeat at Stalingrad in February 1943 shattered the myth of the invincibility of the Wehrmacht, bolstered Soviet confidence, and drained Germany of vital manpower and material. But it was not the decisive blow on the eastern front. The Wehrmacht was still a formidable force, capable of massive flanking and encircling movements, as it proved just a few weeks later in the recapture of Kharkov. But the battle of Kursk, fought in July and August l943, truly was the decisive battle in the eastern front. It was certainly the greatest tank battle in history; in terms of men and material engaged, it was probably the greatest land battle in history. Showalter effectively conveys both the savagery and the immense scope of the fighting while explaining both the strategic and tactical goals of each side in laymen’s terms. When the German defeat was clear, the Wehrmacht was never again able to mount a broad offensive in the east, and the Soviets began their steady move westward. This is a masterful work that may become the definitive account. --Jay Freeman


Advance praise for Armor and Blood
“The size and the brutality of the vast tank battle at Kursk appalls, this struggle that gives an especially dark meaning to that shopworn phrase ‘last full measure.’ Prepare yourself for a wild and feverish ride over the steppes of Russia. You can have no better guide than Dennis E. Showalter, who speaks with an authority equaled by few military historians.”—Robert Cowley, founding editor of MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History
“A fresh, skillful, and complete synthesis of recent revelations about this famous battle . . . As a myth buster, Armor and Blood is a must-read for those interested in general and military history.”—David M. Glantz, editor of The Journal of Slavic Military Studies
“Dennis Showalter’s account of the nightmarish battle of Kursk is as lively as it is expertly researched and analyzed. When two industrial military societies send their top armored units into a head-on collision, the horrific result is like none other in the history of modern battle—and only someone of Showalter’s scholarly skills can sort out myth from fact, in this gripping account of the most important battle on the Eastern Front.”—Victor Davis Hanson, the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, author of The Savior Generals
“Once again Professor Showalter has produced a wonderful popular history. Armor and Blood is an account of the Battle of Kursk written with panache, wit, and eloquence, and based on up-to-date research into the Soviet and German archives. This is both a great read and a fundamental reconsideration of the battle.”—Williamson Murray, co-author of Moment of Battle: The Twenty Clashes That Changed the World
“Refreshingly crisp, pointed prose . . . Throughout, [Showalter] demonstrates his adeptness at interweaving discussions of big-picture strategy with interesting revelations and anecdotes. . . . Showalter does his best work by keeping his sights set firmly on the battle at hand, while also parsing the conflict for developments that would have far-reaching consequences for the war.”Publishers Weekly
“Showalter . . . goes far toward rescuing the Battle of Kursk from undeserved obscurity.”Kirkus Reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; First Edition edition (August 27, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400066778
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400066773
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #284,494 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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48 of 53 people found the following review helpful By T. Kunikov VINE VOICE on September 17, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
The book description claims 'Armor and Blood' is 'the definitive account of the greatest tank battle of World War II', unfortunately that's far from accurate. The author himself admits this book offers nothing new or original but is a 'synthesis' of recent literature. As someone who's read their share of literature on the Second World War in general and the Eastern Front in particular, I'm always interested in new analysis and discussions that feature the Eastern Front. Yet 'Armor and Blood' seems a somewhat pointless text to me. A synthesis already assumes that there is no original research or new evidence to present the reading audience. But a synthesis in itself can be a useful tool if crafted from the newest research and offering original analysis. But having read close to a dozen books on the battle of Kursk I simply do not see where that original analysis is, nor did I see much of a narrative crafted from the newest literature available. Instead, what I encountered among the pages of 'Armor and Blood' is another German point-of-view text about the battle of Kursk with some minor mention of the Red Army every few pages. Once more the vaunted SS panzer force loses 3 or so tanks 'written-off' while the Red Army leaves on the field of battle hundreds of T-34s and T-70s and tens of thousands of men, which are readily replaced with the next batch of cannon fodder eager to die for the motherland. Unlike Zamulin's recently translated study of Prokhorovka that provided an enormous amount of new material for the western reader to digest, 'Armor and Blood' is another quickly forgotten regurgitation of all that is already pretty well known by those who've previously read about this battle. In addition, the lack of endnotes and bibliography (as with his previous 'Hitler's Panzers') makes for a less interesting reading experience for those interested to find out where the information presented is coming from.
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41 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Dave Schranck on August 31, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book which is a synthesis of earlier works has many good attributes that warrant recommendation but from my perspective there are also negatives that prevent it from receiving five stars. The rest of the review will explain my reasoning for the good and bad.
The book can be viewed or conceptualized as having two main parts. There is the tactical events or micro history as the author calls it and the author's commentary and analysis.

In regards to the tactical: there are literally dozens of battle events missing from the narrative and the ones included are not given their full due. I realize this book is a summary and is not meant to provide in-depth coverage but there should be enough tactical/operational information provided to give the reader a true picture or magnitude of the campaign. Even on a tertiary or even secondary level I don't believe this requirement was met.
There are so many hard fought battles for control of key villages, hills, river crossings that are missing that if were present would give the reader a better handle of the fanaticism that both sides displayed or the level of aptitude and in some cases inaptitude that was displayed by some of the commanders.
In the northern salient, coverage stops on the 9th if memory serves. In the south the first five days are also skimpy. Starting with the 10th, a few more details are provided and it improves a little further on the 11th and 12th but with the 13th onwards, the details are back to skimpy.

The details of the extensive defenses erected were short changed as well. This information would give the reader the lengths the Soviets went to prepare for battle and the efforts the Germans were driven to overcome these obstacles.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Jim Huston on December 30, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As an avid reader of "general consumption" WW II history, I was looking forward to learning about the huge battle of Kursk, little known to most Western readers including myself (at least in comparison to battles in France and Italy and North Africa). Armor and Blood caught my attention - it had some good reviews, and Dennis Showalter is a well known historian. Unfortunately, I finished the book frustrated by Showalter's organization, lack of any real story telling, and his sometimes tortured syntax. Regarding organization, I understand that it is a real challenge to present the enormity of this battle in a book. And I get it that much of story of this battle is perhaps lost forever due to the 50+ years of Soviet information lockdown. But a much better way to have written the book - or certainly a better way for me to have understood the battle - would have been to write it on a day by day narrative. Instead he hops around from different fronts and different units on days. I found it very hard to keep the thread of the narrative. Also, more charts would have helped to describe the numbers - of tanks, men, casualties, etc. The lack of story telling just made much of the book seem repetitive - it seemed like (e.g.) yet again Das Reich into battle without any real context. And regarding syntax, Showalter seems to want to, well, show off. e.g. "For the Germans at Kursk's sharp end, denial was not the proverbial river in Egypt". While I finished with a better understanding of Kursk, it was not an entertaining or enjoyable read, nor did I gain the level of understanding of this tipping point battle I had hoped.
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